The proposed Emu Swamp Dam site.
The proposed Emu Swamp Dam site. FILE

Angst over approvals

THE prospective future of Emu Swamp Dam is again looking uncertain with necessary approvals set to expire in coming months.

On September 29, 2014, the Emu Swamp Dam project was approved by the then Co-ordinator-General. That approval, along with an Environmental Impact Statement, are set to lapse come October 2.

A new business case, being prepared by the Stanthorpe and Granite Belt Chamber of Commerce, isn't scheduled for completion until November 30. The approvals belong to Southern Downs Regional Council. In a letter from chamber president Bill James to Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie, Mr James expressed his desire to see the two parties formalise an agreement.

"The detailed business case and associated financial and economic modelling is contingent upon the utilisation of the existing Co-ordinator-General's approvals. Should these approvals lapse, any future proponent would be forced to expend significant time and resources. It would be a significant waste of resources and goodwill if the SDRC was unwilling or unable to facilitate the transfer of the EIS and approvals to a proponent prepared to actively advance the project,” Mr James said.

It's expected new approvals could cost millions of dollars. But, in a written response, Cr Dobie indicates the council would be obliged to "undertake the appropriate procurement process to place the approvals on the market”. She goes on say "which is likely to involve and Expression of Interest process followed by a Refined Tender Process to determine the most appropriate party to acquire the approvals”.

"We remain hopeful that the council will help transfer the EIS to a suitable entity before it expires in October,” a chamber spokesperson told the Border Post yesterday. "If the EIS is not transferred then the project may never happen, and the huge economic benefits for the Southern Downs will be lost.”

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